The Asian Games 2022 has already begun in Hangzhou with the Women’s Cricket Qualifiers underway at the Pingfeng Cricket Field. In addition to Cricket, Football, Indoor Volleyball, and Beach Volleyball preliminaries and group stages begin today.
In Football, the Indian National Team is all set to face China at 05:00 IST. India hastily assembled a rag-tag final squad only last Friday. The team departed for China on Sunday, leaving the players with no time for even a training session together. Furthermore, it should be noted that two players, namely defenders Konsam Chinglensana Singh and Lalchungnunga, out of the initial selection of 22 players, will be delayed in joining the team due to visa-related issues.
Regrettably, this delay means that they will not be available for the Group A match against China scheduled for Tuesday. This absence represents a significant setback for the Indian team. However, it has been confirmed by head coach Igor Stimac that senior defender Sandesh Jhingan and the team’s talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri will also be withheld from participating in the opening match.
The Indian team consists of three senior players alongside the U23 Indian squad. China is progressively stronger than India on the continental side. The last India-China match happened in the Asian Games in 2002 at Busan. The star-studded Indian team lost 0-2 to the Dragons then. Given that India has seen a lot of growth in football over the recent years, A better outcome cannot be written off completely.
India is grouped in Group A which constitutes China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar alongside the Blue Tigers. India will have to ensure a Top-Two or hope for best placed third position in order to reach the Round of 16 of the Asian Games 2022 Men’s Football.
The Men’s National Team is focusing keenly on the Bangladesh and Myanmar games and finishing second. However, a second position in Group A will entail a difficult R16. The possible matchups include Iran or Saudi Arabia in the most possible outcomes or Vietnam or Mongolia in less possible outcomes.